Above is a 50-light-year view of the central Carina Nebula, where a maelstrom of star birth is taking place. The fantasy-like landscape is sculpted by winds and radiation from monster stars, shredding the surrounding material that is the last vestige of the giant cloud from which they were born.
The immense nebula contains at least a dozen brilliant stars 50 to 100 times the mass of our Sun. The most unique is the star Eta Carinae, at bottom center. Eta Carinae is in the final stages of its lifespan, as evidenced by two billowing lobes of gas that presage its upcoming explosion as a supernova.
The fireworks in the Carina region started three million years ago, when the nebula’s first stars ignited in a huge cloud of molecular hydrogen. Radiation from these stars carved out an expanding bubble of hot gas. Clumps of dark clouds scattered across the nebula are nodules of dust and gas gradually being eaten away. The hurricane of stellar winds and radiation within the cavity is now compressing the surrounding walls of cold hydrogen, triggering a second stage of star formation.
The nebula is around 7,500 light-years away in the constellation Carina the Keel. This image is a mosaic taken with Hubble Space Telescope’s Advanced Camera.
Thanks! It took about an hour of fiddling to get something I liked, which makes me wonder what I’m doing with my life. Oh, that’s right:
KEEPING THE SUPER 8 TAG ALIVE ONE POST AT A TIME